Saturday, August 24, 2013

Setting Up & Homecoming

We've been in our new neighbourhood, James Bay, for 19 days now. Blogging hasn't been a priority due to these events...
Written at the base of the Terry Fox Statue at Mile 0 in Beacon Hill Park
Because our 17 ft van was soooo loaded we've been de-cluttering and getting rid of things. After-all, 2 businesses got packed up as well as personal stuff. And it all has to fit into a 2 bedroom apartment as we downsize from a 3 bedroom + garage with full basement all with ample storage.

Ah storage space, the great deceiver, lulled me into thinking that I possessed little. It was just tucked away and forgotten. Though we're not consumers, 27 years has given us plenty of time to accumulate. A little thing here and a little thing there, it all adds up to a sh**load of stuff.

Boxes full of stuff have gone to the Salvation Army; more is yet to follow. Some of Rod's stuff will go to good use when we donate it to Habitat for Humanity. 3 boxes of books await delivery to a second hand bookshop in hopes that they can overlook those that are earmarked, underlined and filled with notes in the margins... pretty much all of them.

I've allotted myself 1 bookcase to house my most treasured books. Though Kindle fulfills much of my desire to own material I still love the look and feel of the printed page!

Lugging this stuff all the way across country wasn't a mistake. Surprisingly, what seemed essential from my Burlington life's vantage point changed the instant we got here confirming that I actually am starting  a new phase of my life. Who knows where it will lead? I only know that I have to be a whole lot less encumbered in order for it to really take off. As things drop away I'm feeling lighter and lighter.

There will be more de-cluttering over the next few weeks: slides and photos need to be consolidated; 3 boxes of letters and cards (down from 4) carted back and forth from B.C. to Ontario over the years are waiting to be re-read, let go or kept; and the 4 boxes of Christmas decorations were too much to get into before we left.

4 boxes of mine - 2 small and 2 huge ones remained unexplored, filled with God knows what unessentials. I got into all but the biggest one today and miracle of miracles it all fits into the cabinet that Rod made me. The rule is if I don't love it, it's gone. Hmm, still loving a fair bit...we've got great storage in this place - yikes!

Exhausted little girl
Flippy and Maya arrived on the Mon the 12th thanks to the efforts to Pam and Morgie (her handsome grey and white longhaired cat) aka Special Air Freight Agent and Crew. Pam picked them up from the Cats' Castle, gave Flippy a shoulder to snuggle and Maya pats to soothe, put them up for the night and arose at some ungodly hour the next morning to chauffeur them to the airport for 6a.m. Via cel phone she gave me a play by play of the events as they unfolded. I slept on our couch in the living room so as not to disturb Rod with her early morning reports.

Upon coming home, the girls slinked around the apartment for a good while. Then Flippy disappeared for 90 minutes. I couldn't find hide nor hair of her and it was freaking me out. To calm and assure myself I kept repeating the mantra, She didn't get out, she's in here somewhere. And just like magic she walked out of a closet I'd checked umpteen times.

Later, out of the corner of my eye, I caught her squeezing herself through an opening, seemingly half of her girth in width, in the kick under the kitchen cupboards. One leg and her tail were all that I had to grab in order to haul her outta there.

It was all too much stimulation for her so I wrapped her up in a blankie, sat on the bathroom floor with her and closed the door. Feeling secure once more she was out for a few hours while I read.

Yin and Yang - Maya finds consolation with Flippy
Maya, intrepid explored that she is, seemed unscathed. But while we watched TV she crashed behind me, laying on the back of the couch for the rest of the night.

The rest of the time we were: visiting and exploring the city and some choice restaurants with Rod's sister and her hubby who were in town for a few days and staying at a nearby hotel, exploring the hood and doing all that needs doing when one changes residence from Ontario to B.C.

Once the B.C. license plates were put on my car it felt official...WE LIVE HERE!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Leaving full of HOPE

Tues Aug 6

Hope to Victoria via TCH to Tsawwassen ferry terminal to Swatrz Bay #17 Pat Bay Hwy, TCH into Victoria and we're home in James Bay.
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I went for a one hour snooze at 9:30 p.m. last night and work up at 7:30 this morning.With the pressure of long drives behind us I "crashed". Today is an easy day. 2 hours to the ferry from here, 90 min ferry ride and then we intend to find a place in Sidney for the night. (As you can see by the itinerary we decided to motor on.)

Brekkie today at the Kan Yon Restaurant in downtown Hope is a little slice of small town life. I can't help but over hear conversation between 3 local people, casually sitting a few seats apart from each other at the snack bar, talking about: stem cell "beef", service providers Shaw vs Telus, local festivals and accomplished children (a psychologist and a photographer amongst the bunch). Maybe they know each other; maybe they don't. It's a typical Chinese Canadian establishment that you find in many a small towns on the road providing very satisfying homey fare.

Complimentary fortune cookies accompany our bill, as he cracks open his cookie Rod says, "Let's see what is has to say to us about the rest of our trip." He's been hanging around me too long. "Listening, not imitation, is the highest form of flattery."

Grinning from ear to ear I nod my approval. "I couldn't agree with that more!"

And mine reads, "The less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in". Providing a little nod to the relativity of time in my quest for a slower pace.

Goin' down the road I glance back in the rear view mirror at the snow capped mountains fading in the distance as we head off to the delta plains and the Tsawwassen Bay ferry to Swatrz Bay on Vancouver Island. I smile knowing that these mountains will be our playground for the next few years.

Feeling upbeat on this sun filled day I choose to skip music selections that are beginning to repeat on my i-pod as well as: Spanish instruction, most new age and instrumental selections. Tony Bennett and Elvis Costello chime in on Are You Havin' Any Fun? followed by Blue Rodeo's Til I Am Myself Again. I laugh waiting in line for the ferry as Bill Cosby spins a tale of a "typical" visit to The Dentist and am awed by the multi-talented, story teller extraordinaire, Shel Silverstein weaving tales of mischievous delight and singing his composition of Silvia's Mother. I mimic the vocal stylings of: Nat King Cole, Mel "the velvet fog" Tormé, Frank Sinatra and Kenny Rankin. I wail along with Janis, Melissa Etheridge and Amanda Marshall, sounding just like them in my mind's ear. The Canadian contingent that appears today are: The Boomers, Rufus Wainright, Prairie Oyster, Paul Langille, Ladybird Sideshow and Sarah McLaughlin.

The ferry is the most appropriate ending for our epic journey. I'm returning to the island, this time with my little family. It's been heart warming to see the U-haul in the centre of every image along the way knowing that Rod's there and he's on a long awaited adventure of his own. He says he can't take it all in yet; it feels surreal. There's been too much to do and more yet to be done. But me, I'm already home. As we sit one the deck we decide that the day is young so why not head down to our apartment and settle in with sleeping bags and padding for bedding tonight to get a jump on the movers who will arrive tomorrow afternoon.

While Rod catches some zzz's inside I walk the decks for some needed exercise, soaking in the sun, salt sea air and reacquainting myself with the islands we pass along the way. I really feel I'm returning home; the passion I feel for this part of the country stirs me.

On one of my passes a man on the foredeck points to a small school of dolphins passing through the channel. I and a few others are fortunate to witness their presence.

"I like your feathers," he says. I'm wearing the feather earrings Marisa gifted to me and of course there's the feathers in the tattoo on my arm. He opens his shirt collar to reveal a small feather pendant. I express my appreciation for the beauty of this land and tell him that, "I'm moving from southern Ontario where there is little respect for the land to this place and people that honour it."

His manner of speech, subject of conversation and perspective lend him the air of a native elder as he speaks of the need not only to respect the land but to replace criticism and judgment with prayer that our leaders may have wisdom and be supported in their work and do better by the energy we send them. He speaks of liking, not liking and indifference. How challenging, but necessary, it is to send to one and all alike, healing positive energy.

What is there to learn from this situation? Today the card - Kahuna/expert - asked me to consider this and here it is.

The call to return to our cars to prepare for departure ends our conversation and I wish him well. He says as he presses his hand to mine, "You are a healer and will bring the energy here to what you do." I had told him nothing about myself. Time will tell.

As we disembark from the ferry and head down the road to Victoria, a bald eagle flies overhead leading  the way.
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We gave away all of our plants and then found Prickly Penis left alone in the corner so we had to bring him with us.
He was a real trouper. We gave him breaks now and again to catch some rays.
Let's hope he finds Victoria to his liking.
Our little place is perfect and Paul, the super welcomes us and orients us to our new digs in James Bay. At 8 p.m. Rod and I enjoy the freshest Pacific Halibut fish and chip dinner down at the wharf only a hop, skip and jump from our new "home".

Monday, August 5, 2013

People are peeing everywhere

Day 6
Calgary Alberta to Hope B.C. on the #1 Trans Canada Hwy, the 5 from Kamloops and back on to TCH into Hope
Leaving at 9 a.m. arriving at 7p.m. (time change - back one hour) roughly 9 hours driving time

NOTE the post dates were off by one day as I was entering them after midnight - sorry for confusion. This post date is correct as I've set it myself and I reset the others.

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We headed out from Calgary for the lavender foothills in the distance at 9a.m. with the sun at our backs.

As the mountains get nearer and nearer my excitement grows.

The playful cloud formations of the prairies: farting fish, benevolent Buddha hand, flying duck chasing leaping puppy, fire breathing dragon have given way to mystical ethereal fingers drawing whispy cloud carpets over the Rockies and I am moved.

This range conceals what lies beyond and I'm filled with anticipation as we approach, then pass through this portal. Engulfed by the peaks we disappear from where we came.

Although my heart knows this place it's like I've never been here before; my eyes are so wide open. When I was here before I was half asleep in my body, my mind and soul and to the presence of everything around me. Maybe part of the difference is that this time I'm driving, I'm no longer a passenger. I think I was a passenger in my own life back then.

The backdrop of soaring strings, and soulful horns intensifies the emotions of my passionate, breaking heart; breaking from the beauty and power of such majesty. If there is a more beautiful place on this earth it is impossible for me to comprehend right now. New age and classical music pours out of my i-pod as I drive for hours through these parks: Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Kootenay National Park, Glacier National Park, Yoho National Park.

I love that I can see Rod driving through all of this with me.
I suggest you google these parks and images for pics. I was too engaged to take photos. None could possibly do them justice

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Rod: "There are people peeing everywhere over here."

Note to anyone driving through the park system of the TCH from east to west. It takes about 6 hours so ...IF YOU HAVE THE SLIGHTEST INKLING TO PEE, DO IT AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY. You will be lulled into a false sense of security for the first 3 hours as there are many pit stops provided along the way but after that - ha!

This is the view from "the pee spot" which was so popular.
Of course, just down the road were indoor washrooms but bladders were bursting.
READERS' WARNING: the following contains information that readers of the more sensitive sex, when it comes to matters of personal feminine hygiene, may find yucky (Rawbear, this means you especially!). You may want to skip to the next *  *  *

I'd finally seen a sign for an information building about 5km down the road but Rod, who was driving ahead of me, turned into an area where he saw other desperate souls pulled over and I, sheep-like, followed. I made my way into a relatively secluded spot, squatted and peed with the force of a fire hose. Problem is I didn't use the Whiz Kit; result, massive splash back as the pee hit the dry ground and a lovely pool formed around my right foot (fortunately I had a full bottle of water with which to clean off). This is one more advantage of the pee kit as I discovered at the next pee spot. Having mastered the standing pee, I was delighted with the stream that sprayed well out of my way leaving my feet dry. I will admit it feels a little dicey at first but it's soooo liberating!

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Of note this day coming out of the i-pod other than the lovely pieces that graced my way through the Rockies:
Satori, Natalie Merchant - Equestrienne, Xavier Rudd, Julaka - night street, Janis Joplin, Melissa Manchester, Amanda Marshall, Simply Red,
Canadians of note today - Prairie Oyster, Serena Ryder

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With the long drives behind us and a leisurely night ahead, no need to arise early, Rod and I enjoy a meal a local pub's outside porch. Salmon on a croissant and a garden salad with a Corona with lime are my reward. "We are in our home province now," I say to Rod. It feels right and I'm conscious of the barrier the Rockies provide between B.C. and the rest of Canada - it is no wonder that B.C.'ers feel like a separate entity.

Sunday, August 4, 2013



(I should call this bathtub diaries as the last 2 entries were written in bathtub and shower. Sharing one bedroom does provide its challenges when exhaustion demands, quite, darkness and sleep for one and a place to work for another in a motel. Actually it works out quite well.)

Day 5 - Regina to Calgary via the #1 Trans Canada Hwy
We left at 9:30 a.m. and got in at 9:30 p.m.

the badlands of Alberta taken in one direction

Rod and I were driving through Saskatchewan today for many hours...

Rod: "How are you doing?"
Me: "Great! And, you?"
Rod: "Good, I just woke up from a nap."
Me: "Oh ya, I just finished a yoga practice. Headstand was a bit of a challenge but I managed."
Rod: "I just thought I'd warn you that a curve is coming up in about 15 minutes."

That's how straight and flat the territory is here - you can see for miles in every direction. Add to that, that: eastbound and westbound traffic is separated by a substantial grassy meridian, you can set the car on cruise and there is little traffic going our way (more eastbound cars and only eastbound cyclists so far) and you can see that the potential for sleepiness is a real threat. I actually was able to do some yoga stretches while driving and it did help a lot.

Goin' down the road - the boarder between Saskatchewan and Alberta

The past 3 days I've been reminded to use caution while driving these past 3 days as I have drawn the Meditate card - when you drive, drive.

The scrubby trees of the Ontario watershed area that supplies the arctic waters gave way to a carpet of purple wild flowers flanked by stands of trees on either side of the road for 30 minutes and then "poof" they were gone and we were in the big sky territory of the prairies.

I marvel at the vastness of the sky, the high ceiling. It's fortunate that I wasn't born and raised in the prairies as I probably couldn't live anywhere else, I would find it too claustrophobic. As we drove through the badlands of Alberta into the setting sun the horizon was so barren and expansive I felt as if I was driving off the edge of the earth.

The day began with country western songs, appropriate for this rugged farm land, from 92.7 BIG DOG radio. Later, my i-pod on mix provided me with an eclectic mix, among them: The Smothers Brothers - Mom always liked you best routine, the Stones, Josh Groban, Spanish language lessons, Spike Lee's You Only Hurt the Ones You Love, and Canadian artists: Jann Arden (Calgarian), Blue Rodeo, Valdy, Great Big Sea, the Barenaked Ladies to mention a few. I skipped the New Age stuff, the classical and things that were too sedate.

My emotions are calmer today. Maybe I exorcised them at the Ontario Manitoba boarder where I stopped yesterday for a brief ceremony. My longest time friend, Janet had given me a portable smudge kit years back and I've been using it on this trip to smudge my car at the beginning and end of each day.   As I stood looking back to Ontario I asked that any heavy, negative energy be released, I gave thanks for all that this province has blessed me with and I asked for forgiveness for any transgressions during my stay there and with that I threw tobacco, white sage and a small prayer bundle into the air.

and in the other direction

The first song that came up after this ceremony would be telling. The first one was OM MANI PADME HUM then KAHAWI'THA by Joanne Shenandoah and later NORTHERN BOUND from the WINGED MIGRATION soundtrack (discernible lyrics are "journey home") - perhaps this is auspicious.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Marathons of sorts

Day 3 Wawa to Dryden and a bit of Day 4 Dryden to Regina - both days took around 10 hours each (including stops)

Sat Day 4

Rod: "We're finally out of Ontario."
Me: "Yea!"
Rod: "How long did that take?"
Me: "About 27 years." seriously we crossed from Ontario into Manitoba at 11:45 Sat morning, so it takes about 3 1/2 days to get to Manitoba from Burlington.
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The last 2 days have been cathartic thanks to the power of music.

Friday Day 3

From the moment I plugged in the i-pod and put it on shuffle the music oracle has worked her magic. Izzy Kamakawiwo'ole's sweet Hawaiian song greeted me on Friday morning, confirming that the road out of Ontario would be winding and rolling. But driving it wasn't as challenging as I expected. The most arduous "road" I've been travelling is the one within.

SINGING IN THE RAIN foretold of the cloudbursts that came and went with such force that the downpour looked white - just like the milk that was used in filming Gene Kelly's production number. Milky white raindrops gave the desired effect on the screen. And, I understand that Kelly was very much under the weather but was able to do the scene in one take. "The show must go on" mirrors KOKUA extra effort is needed this day, so my oracle cards tell me.

After a bite in a restaurant TONIGHT'S GONNA BE A GOOD NIGHT plays through the mall as I make my way to the truck helps me to trust that we will get to Dryden without incident; and we did.

Driving towards Dryden the sky becomes more expansive as the tree topped amethyst rock faces give way to scrubby, stunted trees and more rolling countryside. A dragon cloud breathes fire in the direction from where I've come. A little while later, as we step out from a restaurant across the way from the "super hero" motel a female bagpiper faces west and plays AMAZING GRACE. It is Friday night. In PORT ALBERT on the beach at Lake Huron other pipers are piping down the sun while they walk into the lake. Perhaps Flo and Jack are listening to their piper as I am now.

The sunsets on Lake Huron are spectacular and so it is this night. The sky is streaked with rose and lilac  clouds with a sliver of gold, glowing sky on the horizon. "Red sky at night sailor's delight." Does this apply to the prairies?

Peppered through the day's soundtrack were memory songs: "dancing" with my client Gail to Barry Manilow; singing along to Amanda Martinez in Spanish for my client Evelyn; my sister Candy kissing Peemee Como on the TVscreen; flying with Lucy, Kalani Jane and Karen; love songs that express how I feel about Rod...and so many more.
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Rod and I stop to pay tribute to Terry Fox at the memorial erected in his honour outside Thunder Bay where his Marathon of Hope (begun on April 12/80) ended in on Sept 1 of the same year . Every Canadian was profoundly moved by this young man, saddened by the return of his cancer and mourned his passing. He has inspired millions as you will see...

Steve Fonyo, another cancer sufferer and amputee completed his transcontinental run, the Journey for Lives, in 1985.
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More music oracle from Day 4 in tomorrow's entry...
Pee kit report - I peed by the side of the car today (Sat) in a gully with great success, thanks pee kit!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Car dancing from Wawa to Dryden

Day 3 - on the road from Wawa to Dryden via the #17.
Yes, we're STILL in Ontario.

Due to complications related to final matters regarding the sale of the house we didn't leave Wawa til 10 a.m. With the house matters finally behind us (2 days later than expected) long held tension drained out of me leaving my muscles like limp spaghetti yet my body and mind full of the ya yas as we set out for the 9 1/2 hour drive.

Being so much father up north and in a different time zone
we made Dryden just as it was getting dark thus avoiding the increased risk of hitting moose on the road
and. more importantly, staying here.
My remedy for the ya yas?

Crank up the tunes. Trip down memory lane. And, car dance like this.

I did take time to enjoy the fabulous vista as we made our way around Lake Superior, through Marathon and to the Terry Fox memorial in Thunder Bay. The scrubby trees and less stimulating scenery that I expected to find didn't appear til we made our way back to the 17 after the by pass around Thunder Bay.

I used the pee kit today; product review to come. That'll keep you glued to the blog I'm sure.

More about the trip itself later; gotta go to bed. Another long day tomorrow.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rubber necking from Sudbury to the Soo



We drove from Sudbury, through the Soo (Sault Set Marie), and around the most breathtaking vistas of Lake Superior - hence the title of this post.

This is a 17 ft long truck.

A very moody looking view of the lake. Though the day was predominantly sunny
this picture hints at the power of this body of water

This info and what follows is posted on boards overlooking the lake.
Info from

I couldn't write about this leg of my trip without including this tribute to the 29 men who died in the wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald on Nov 10, 1975 - written and performed by Canadian folk legend Gordon Lightfoot.

After this exhilarating day, I took a bath in our immaculately clean, Rod Waterman approved, room (this is high praise for their recent renovations) at the PARKWAY MOTEL in Wawa.

Me: "Hey Rod."
Rod: "Ya."
Me: "You should see this bathtub it's perfect."
Rod: "It's a real little one, right."
Me: "Ya."
Rod: "We'll have to get you one."
Me: "Great."
Rod: "In some places they call it a sink."

Yes, the road crazies have set in.

Yesterday we drove from Burlington to Sudbury via Trafalgar Rd, the 401 (over Toronto), the 400 (up through Barrie)  and 69 (through Parry Sound). Through the course of the day the incredible crush of cars on the faded grey asphalt jungle (over 6 lanes), aka the 401 westbound out of Toronto that reduces traffic to a virtual parking lot at 4:30 in the afternoon, gave way to the lush green forests, blue lakes and multicoloured rock outcroppings that make up the Canadian shield. As the geography of the shield took over I noticed that there are few billboards (in contrast to my childhood memories), no litter (hallelujah!) and where there was once graffiti, this need to say "I was here", has been replaced by the creation of hundreds of inuksuk sentries looking down upon us as we pass; it felt sacred.

This morning at 8:30 a.m., I set out on the #17 aka Trans Canada Highway, with my i-pod on shuffle and, as fate would have it, a selection of fine Canadian artists followed one after the other (some well known others creating labours of love in obscurity): Melissa McClelland, Wayne Krawchuk, Colin James, Luke Doucet, Michael Bublé, Joni Mitchell, Jack/Norm Clarke (my friend, Flo's hubby who serenaded Pam, Flo and I with song, folk and classical guitar selections as we gazed into fire pit flames), Harry Manx (Salt Spring Island resident and therefore honorary Canadian, if not Canadian born). What an amazing pool of talent we have. As I sing along I think Mom would have agreed with Henry Winkler's character in HERE COMES THE BOOM that "without music life would be a mistake".

In contrast to the rain, fog and poor visibility of the night before, today showered us with sun and benevolent weather.

Tomorrow, I'm told the drive will be long, very winding and not near as pretty. We may have to stop earlier than planned and as Rod's sourcing out alternatives to our planned stop he's threatening me with a motel with a super hero theme. God help me. I think I'll sleep in my car. Let's hope we can make the 10 hour trip as originally planned.